Copenhagen - On Road to a Zero Carbon City

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An Advantageous Starting Point

Copenhagen had the advantage of starting off on its green journey as early as in 1990. With the city's district heating system seeing continuous expansion, 98 per cent of all homes in Copenhagen were connected to the system by 2010. This was important since heating contributed to 25 per cent of the green gas emissions from the city. (Refer to Table II). The city successfully kept the growth in road traffic very low by levying heavy taxes on cars and ensuring widespread use of biking lanes. In addition, the city's pedestrian streets, the use of wind turbines as a source of energy, and good town planning gave the city a head start in its journey toward carbon neutrality.

In 2009, the Copenhagen City Council initiated the Copenhagen Climate Plan, significantly raising the city's ambitions to become a green city. The plan envisaged a 20 per cent reduction in carbon emissions by 2015, from 2,500,000 tonnes of CO2 to 2,000,000 tonnes per year. The plan encompassed 50 initiatives, which broadly fell under six themes with specific targets for each (Refer to Table III).

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By 2010, 44 of the 50 initiatives envisaged in the 2009 plan had been launched and funds of Euro 12 million had been allocated for the period 2010-2013. The administration had set up a Climate Secretariat and built an organization to support its implementation. In 2009, Copenhagen was ranked highest in the European Green City Index based on a study sponsored by Siemens AG and developed by the Economist Intelligence Unit. The study ranked 30 major cities across Europe on the basis of 30 indicators grouped under 8 categories : CO2, buildings, energy, transport, water, waste and land use, air quality, and environmental governance. Copenhagen ranked high in energy use, environmental governance, and transportation.

Talking about the ranking, the Lord Mayor of Copenhagen in 2009, Ritt Bjerregaard, said, "We are quite unique in bicycles and district heating. Traffic is the biggest challenge.' She felt that Copenhagen had the advantage of starting early and of investing in the needed infrastructure over the years.

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